Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Practicing The Art of the Possible

We're entering the final stages of Courageous Parenting manuscript editing, and I have to say that there are few things that will make you (ok, not you, I mean me) as crazy as book editing. You start to try to divine meaning in every comma, versus dash, versus parenthesis. For a really good illustration of how meticulous the process can be, look at this photo of my Mojo Mom manuscript from last December, as we went through the final edits. This was after many rounds of work, when you would think it was already done, but each post-it tab represented another change that still needed to be made.

But, as we've gone through this stressful process together, my 14 anthology contributors, my editor Lacey, my project manager Patty, and myself, I have hit upon a really useful concept. To fight back against perfectionism and stress I am telling everyone that we are practicing the art of the possible. What we already have is good and solid, and we only need to work on it to the best of our ability. We can get it as polished as we can in the amount of time we have to work with, and we can then sit back and be happy with what we've created, and not worry about whether we could have moved everything 1% closer to perfection.

Part of the fun of this book is that we are drawing from blogging experience--we're writing quickly and getting the book out there while the ideas are fresh on our minds. The book won't sit in pre-publication for a year or two as books often do! In March, you'll be reading ideas that we are still putting on paper today.

And as we know, blogging doesn't have to be perfect. It's value is that it is timely, fresh, original, and opinionated. It's a contribution to a dynamic conversation that keeps going online, and we hope to do that with Courageous Parenting as well. We know that a book captures a snapshot of opinion and events, but through online conversation, blogging, and podcasting, we can keep the dialogue fresh and evolving.

But the idea of practicing the art of the possible resonates with me as a mother as well as me as a writer. I think we tie ourselves up with unrealistic expectations of ourselves from day one. And believe me, those expectations can evolve for years and still manage to stay unrealistic! We Moms can be very hard on ourselves, focusing on the things that we aren't doing well and lose sight of our generally successful big picture. The problem sticking out like a sore thumb and capturing our attention can obscure the fact that we still have nine perfectly healthy and happy "fingers" that are doing just fine.

I was talking to PunditMom Joanne Bamberger yesterday about Courageous Parenting and we both grooved on this idea, The Art of the Possible. It was so soothing and reassuring. It felt like a soft place to fall, a reminder that if we give it our best shot will be great even if it's not perfect, and we should celebrate that.

So, I posted this note on my computer monitor. What's amazing is that even as I am finishing up this book, and thinking "why did I get myself into this?" (which, I am convinced, every author/editor says at some point during every book's creation!), I also started thinking, hmmmm, maybe there is another book idea in there....

See what becomes possible when writers collaborate when the new anthology "Courageous Parenting" comes out in March 2010. Sign up on and we'll send you a free copy of the e-book version when it's released. A paperback edition will also be available from

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Blogger Stefan Lanfer said...

I like "art of the possible". Great to be so near the finish line AND to feel some new project brewing.

Personally, near or at or just over some creative finish line, I tend to plunge into self-doubt I'll ever produce anything ever again.

way to go

10:09 PM  

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